A number of federal and state safety regulations govern commercial truck and bus companies that operate on our roads and highways. These regulations address everything from limits on the size and weight of the vehicles to the minimum qualifications required to be a commercial driver. The companies and their drivers must follow these regulations or face serious penalties, such as fines or, potentially, suspension of their operating licenses.
Some of the most important regulations that directly affect all of us who share the road with these large vehicles are those that prevent commercial drivers from driving while fatigued. These regulations restrict the number of hours the drivers can operate their vehicles in a given timeframe. They also require the drivers to be medically certified by a physician no less than once every two years. Unfortunately, it’s up to the truck or bus company to make sure a driver follows these regulations.
Studies Confirm that Driving While Fatigued Has Same Effects as Driving While Intoxicated
How dangerous is fatigued driving? Since as early as 1995, the National Transportation Safety Board has consistently ranked fatigue as a leading cause of fatal bus and truck crashes in the United Studies.
In fact, according to recent studies, driving while fatigued causes the same impairment and effects as driving while intoxicated.
The hazards are even greater when large commercial buses or trucks are involved. Because of their size and weight—as well as the fact that most commercial buses still do not have passenger seat belts—commercial vehicle crash cause significantly greater injuries and property damage than crashes involving ordinary passenger vehicles.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Increases the Risk of a Catastrophic Crash by Over 10 Times
One of the most dangerous medical conditions that causes fatigue in commercial drivers is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA — a condition that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods of time when they are sleeping because their upper airway is blocked. A person with OSA can stop breathing dozens to hundreds of times throughout the night without even knowing it, resulting in poor quality of sleep, daytime sleepiness, and chronic fatigue.
The only definitive way to diagnose sleep apnea is through a sleep study, during which the patient undergoes a Polysomnography, a test which measures, among other things, the number of times the individual wakes up gasping for air.
Despite the obvious safety hazards of allowing drivers to operate large buses and trucks while fatigued, the bus and trucking industries have strongly resisted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s attempted to require mandatory OSA screening in commercial drivers. Many of the companies that do screen for OSA require drivers to report symptoms. Because a diagnosis of OSA can prevent the driver from continuing to drive until the condition is treated, those that do recognize the symptoms rarely ever report them.
Our Undefeated Bus Accident Lawyers Obtained the First Sleep Study of a Greyhound Driver in History – Leading to the Largest Fatigue-Related Settlement in the Company’s History
Our Undefeated Bus Accident Lawyers are holding bus and truck companies accountable for failing to screen at-risk drivers for OSA and other sleep disorders.
In a recent case against Greyhound, the largest bus company in the United States, our Bus Accident Lawyers obtained the first court-ordered sleep study of a Greyhound driver in history after the driver lost control of the bus on the highway, causing it to rollover and severely injure many of the passengers onboard. See In re Greyhound Lines, Inc., No. 05-15-00572-CV (Tex. App.—Dallas May 22, 2015).
The study disproved Greyhound’s claim that the driver suffered a “sudden medical episode” and confirmed, as suspected, that the driver had moderate to severe OSA.
The case, which settled shortly thereafter, was the largest in Greyhound’s history.
Injured in a Greyhound Crash? Contact our Undefeated Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here
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If you or a loved one were injured or tragically killed in a bus or truck accident, contact us for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here.
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